++Renaturalisation of the Kamp between the Danube and the Kamp reservoirs is the goal - many questions in connection with the new EVN project remain unanswered++
The citizens' initiative "Lebendiger Kamp", the Lower Austrian Nature Conservation Association, Riverwatch and WWF welcome EVN's announcement that the planned expansion of the Rosenburg power plant has been cancelled. The organisations see EVN's withdrawal as a "success" of the persistent efforts of many people in the Kamp valley.
However, the Kamp protectors still have many questions in connection with the new EVN project. According to EVN press releases, the energy yield of the Rosenburg power plant is to be increased by 25%. However, it is completely unclear how this is to be achieved and what this would mean for the residual water section in the Kamp between the dam and the power plant and thus for the passability of the Kamp for large schooling fish such as nase or barbel. There is also currently no information on the future of the old powerhouse, which shapes the landscape.
The organisations will therefore take a close look at the future new EVN project - and are offering EVN and the Lower Austrian provincial government a dialogue with the aim of finding a comprehensive ecological restoration solution for the entire middle course of the Kamp.
The original EVN plans had envisaged the construction of a new, larger dam and a new powerhouse as well as the dredging of 1.5 kilometres of the Kamp below the power plant. This would have severely damaged the species-rich natural landscape in the middle Kamptal, which is protected under national and EU law. EU regulations (Natura 2000, Water Framework Directive) require ecological improvements, such as better fish passability of the Kamp, in addition to the avoidance of deterioration. In spring 2023, the organisations presented a "Vision for a living Kamptal", which now sets the direction for them.
"What a pleasant surprise," says Sibylle Steidl, first signatory of the "Lebendiger Kamp" citizens' initiative, "we have actually managed to get the plans for the new power plant off the table. Thanks to the many people who got involved in the Kamp valley.The citizens' initiative has therefore achieved its goal for the time being."The psychotherapist adds: "Privately, I'm curious to see what happens next. Renaturalising the entire Kamp up to the chain of dams would of course be the ultimate."
Margit Gross, Naturschutzbund NÖ: "We are delighted that EVN has decided against building a new power plant. We will look at the new EVN plans and assess them with regard to our 'Vision for a living Kamptal'. The Kamp is an ecologically outstanding river that deserves comprehensive renaturalisation and high-level protection. The state of Lower Austria and the owner of the river, the federal government, are now also called upon to act. The cancellation of the new power plant is a very important first step towards a living Kamp, but further steps towards its renaturation must follow."
Ulrich Eichelmann, Managing Director of "Riverwatch", explains: "EVN's announcement that it will not be expanding the Rosenburg power plant is pleasing, but it can only be a first step. To get a 'living Kamp' again, it is not enough to prevent deterioration - the Kamp needs improvement. To achieve this, the dam in Rosenburg must be removed. More and more dams are being demolished around the world, for example three hydropower plants up to 65 metres high on the Klamath River, USA, in 2024. Something similar is happening in Spain, Finland and France. It's time for rivers in Austria to be freed in sections too."
Gerhard Egger, river expert at WWF Austria, emphasises: "The dramatic decline in the flow in the Kamp by a third in recent years due to global warming calls into question whether it makes sense to use the river for energy purposes. To mitigate the consequences of the climate crisis, a comprehensive ecological rehabilitation is needed in which EVN must participate. Especially in times of rising temperatures, we urgently need more natural, climate-friendly rivers."